Local swimmers prepare for season
It is hard for the Conant and Mascenic swim teams to compete in Division II.
With the state broken up into just two divisions and 35 teams competing in Division II, it is the way things have always been. In terms of school size, Conant ranks 27th out of the 35 teams and Mascenic is 31st.
But while neither will be battling for a team state championship in early February, both teams expect to be well represented individually. Last year, the Orioles sent seven swimmers to the state meet, including three individuals and one relay group. Mascenic did not have a representative, while the lone swimmer for Wilton-Lyndeborough, Hannah Bailey, made the trip.
The Orioles have a total of 20 swimmers on the team this year, a jump up from 16 last season.
Conant has 11 on the girls side and nine for the boys, who are all returning from last season.
Of the 20 swimmers, seven participated in the D-II meet last year and the Orioles should once again do well in some of the smaller meets.
“We tend to do very well in dual meets because we have decent numbers,” said coach Margie Clark-Kevan. “We tend to beat schools that are our size.”
Senior Kali Mailhot has qualified for the Division II meet in each of the last two years in the butterfly and set personal best times both times. Senior Kory Patten qualified in his final chance last year and posted his low times of the season at the D-II meet in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.
Sophomore Katie L’Ecuyer made it in two events last year, the 100-breaststroke and 200-individual medley and finished in the top 13 of all D-II swimmers in both. Seniors Stephanie Simoneau, Jessica Niquette and Mary Kauer all swam as part of the Conant relay teams, but Clark-Kevan believes they all have a chance to qualify individually.
“I would think probably more like five or six will make it, at least that’s what I’m hoping for,” said Clark-Kevan.
Seniors Caleb Czekalski and Calvin Seppala and sophomore Tayler Seppala have all improved from last year and should score points for the Orioles throughout the season.
Conant hosts a five-team meet on Sunday.
The Vikings have a decent-sized team for the 2012-13 season and a new coach to guide them.
Former coach Tyler Bergeron is in graduate school, so Andrea Sbona, Bergeron’s aunt, takes over the reins. Sbona is a Mascenic graduate and grew up going to the New Ipswich town pool.
She has no coaching experience, but has swum for a good part of her life.
Mascenic has 11 swimmers this year with six boys and five girls, which could open the possibility for some relay teams and some solid scoring in smaller meets.
“As a team, I think we have the ability to compete more than we have in previous years,” said Sbona.
Senior Shawn Thibault has been so close to qualifying in the breaststroke and this is likely the year he finally breaks through.
Sophomore Kailey Allen has shown great improvement in the freestyle events and could make a run at qualifying as well. Freshman Briana Boulerice is a talented young swimmer and can fit into many strokes depending on where Sbona needs her.
“I have a couple swimmers that if they push themselves could qualify for states,” said Sbona.
For Sbona, what she really wants to see is improvement. If everyone can get better as the season goes on, she will be satisfied.
The Vikings open their season at Kearsarge on Friday.